We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Nanny for the Neighbors: Chapter 39


“I don’t think I can be a good father to her,” he continues woodenly. “Last night, if you hadn’t come, I don’t know what would have happened. What if I passed out and dropped her? What if she starved because I couldn’t stand up to make her a bottle?”

My blood is rushing through my body. I fight to keep my voice level. “Do you want to be a father to her?”

He nods slowly.

“Then learn. You’ve got two friends willing to help you every step of the way. Three friends.”

He wipes a hand over his mouth. “But what if she’d have a better life without me? What if she got adopted by a family who actually knows what they’re doing? Or a couple who’ve been trying to have a baby for years? They’d want her so much. They’d understand the difference between Montessori and Waldorf schools, and what kind of baby food is best for her, and whether she should be co-sleeping or in a crib.” He fists his hands in his hair. “I’ve been reading baby advice books since we first got Cami, trying to work out how to look after her. They all say that the way you raise a child will affect her personality. This is the stage where she’ll develop fears, and complexes, and anxieties. What if I hold her too much, and she grows up with separation anxiety? Or not enough, and she grows up feeling like she’s unloved? What if I’m too nice, or too harsh? I could ruin her life without ever meaning to.”

“Oh, Seb.” I put a hand tentatively on his back. “I wish you’d told me you were worried about these things. I can help you learn this stuff, easy.”

He sighs, pulling Cami closer to him. “What would happen?” He asks, his voice breaking. “If I did put her in care?”

I close my eyes. My heart is pounding. “Well,” I start slowly. “She’s small and cute and healthy. There’s a good chance she’ll get adopted quickly.”

“Weren’t you adopted? Were your parents nice? Do they vet them properly?” I raise an eyebrow. “Cyrus let it slip. Sorry, is it a secret?”

“Not a secret. But I wasn’t adopted, I was fostered.” I look down at my hands. “My mum gave me up when I was four. I was in the care system until I turned eighteen. Bounced between residential care homes and foster families.”

He watches me intently. “Was it bad?”

I hesitate. “Not really. Nothing bad happened to me. All my foster parents were nice.” I curl my finger in Cami’s hair. “And the care home was fun. There were so many kids, it was kind of like a school camp, or something.”

“But?” He prompts, when I trail into silence.

I swallow thickly. “Well, it’s not a school camp. You don’t ever get to go home. Ever. You don’t have one.”

He frowns. “How come you weren’t adopted? Did you not like any of the foster families?”

I laugh, tears popping into my eyes. “Because no one wanted me, Seb. No one. I was passed around like a shitty Christmas present. Sometimes I’d go through three foster families a year.” I rub my eyes. Even after all this time, I can’t talk about this without crying. “There was always one kid smarter, or prettier, or more talented than me. Most parents don’t pick the freckly ginger kid as their ideal child. I felt like a toy that got left on a shelf in a toy store.”

He doesn’t say anything, drawing slow circles on Cami’s back.

I bite my lip. “I’d hear the foster parents talking about me behind my back. It was always the same. ‘She’s so rude—she didn’t offer to do the washing up.’ ‘Her teachers say she’s falling behind in class. I don’t think she’ll make the gifted programme.’ ‘It’s a pity about her hair. It makes her look so scruffy.’ ‘She really needs to lose some weight.’ Shit like that. I’d hear them critiquing me, and I’d do whatever I could to mould myself into the kid they wanted. Because I wanted a family so bad.” Tears roll down my cheeks, and I quickly wipe them away. “I lost weight. I straightened my hair. I studied like crazy. At a couple of foster homes, I would do hours of chores every night. I’d cook dinner, clean the kitchen, clean the bathrooms, hoover the whole house, do laundry, do dishes, tidy all the kids’ rooms, babysit. On top of going to school and doing my homework. I’d do anything, be anything, to make them keep me.”

“They exploited you,” he says quietly.

“A bit, yeah. But it was my fault for letting them.”

“You were a kid. None of it was your fault. They were in a position of power over you, and they turned you into their personal bloody live-in maid.”

I look down at my hands. “When I left the system, it took me so, so long to build up my self-esteem so that I thought I was equal to other people. I’ve really only managed it in the last couple of years. Sometimes I still notice myself—” I grimace.


“Trying to ingratiate myself to other people. Saying what they want to hear. Changing myself to look like what they want to see. Doing too many favours.” I give him a pointed look.

“That’s why you cleaned the flat when I yelled at you?”

I nod, embarrassed. “I went to a therapist a while back, and she said it’s an extension of the fight-or-flight response. Fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. When I’m in stress, I—fawn. I try to make people like me. It’s just a reflex, I don’t think about it, but it’s awful. My voice changes, the way I speak changes. I’m so submissive, even when I don’t want to be. I’m always happy to do favours and help people out, but if I think someone is taking me for granted, it kind of takes me back. I don’t want to be that desperate, exploited kid again, Seb. I can’t.”

He doesn’t say anything, jogging Cami gently in his arms.

I sigh. “Sorry. This isn’t about me. I guess what I’m trying to say is… being put into care is a really, really sad thing for a child to have to put up with.” I look up at Seb. His grey eyes are burning with intensity. “If you really don’t want Cami, then fine. Give her up. But don’t assume her life will be better because of it. Even if she gets adopted by the nicest people on the planet, it will always hurt her, knowing that neither of her parents wanted her. It will leave a scar.” I stroke Cami’s fat cheek. She reaches up, curling her tiny hand around my finger as she dozes. “Obviously, I’m not saying giving up a child is always bad. Sometimes it’s the best choice. It was the best choice for me; but I still cried myself to sleep every single night for about fourteen years. So really think about whether or not this is the best choice. Because if you’re just scared, get over it. Take the help me and the others are offering you, and work for her. I have one hundred percent faith that you can be an incredible father to her.”

He nods slowly. “Okay,” he says, his voice raspy. “Okay. Thank you. I—I will.”



I smile up at him, relief flooding through me. “Can I have a cuddle?”

He pauses, then awkwardly wraps an arm around me.

I burst out laughing. “I meant from Cami. I just spilled my life story, I wanna hold a cute baby.”

“Oh.” He goes to pull back, but I lean into him, trapping his arm. “Hey. I’m not opposed to a double cuddle.” Honestly, after everything he just told me, I want to hug him really, really bad.

He sits stiffly for a moment, then relaxes underneath me, shifting Cami’s weight onto my lap. She plucks at my shirt and closes her eyes. I yawn, holding her close.

“Are you tired?” Seb asks softly. I can feel his voice rumbling through his chest. It warms something inside me. “You can go home to take a nap, if you like. You’ve been here all night.”

“I’m fine. Cami just woke me up early.”

“And I kept you up late,” he finishes. “Did you get any sleep at all?”

“I’m fine.” I snuggle Cami closer, my eyes falling shut. Sebastian lifts a hand and strokes my hair away from my forehead. “What are you doing?” I mumble.

“Returning a favour. Sleep, Beth.”

I’m a sucker for people playing with my hair. He keeps on sifting through my curls, and I’m out like a light.

I float awake to the sound of voices.

“Quick,” someone hisses. “Oh my God, they’re so cute. Get a picture.”

Don’t,” Seb’s voice warns.

“But it’s your first ever cuddle, mate! We need to memorialise it!”

I hear the shutter of a phone camera and stretch, rubbing my eyes. “Hmm?”

My pillow moves, and I look around to see I’m still on the sofa with Sebastian. He’s got an arm around me, and I’m cuddled up against his side. Cami is asleep on his lap, her tiny lips moving slightly as she dreams.

“Oh. Sorry. You’re very comfy.” I wipe off his shoulder. “Did I drool on you?”

“Don’t worry. This is a very absorbent shirt.”

I glare at him. His mouth twitches.

“I’m making this my background,” Cyrus announces by the door, jabbing at his phone. I turn to see him and Jack kicking off their shoes. Jack is beaming, practically bouncing on the spot with excitement. Which seems like an overreaction, no matter how cute the picture is.

“Why do you look like you’re about to piss yourself?” Seb mumbles.

“I just checked the mailbox,” Jack says, waving a fancy-looking black envelope. “We got an invitation to the AGAME Summit.”

Sebastian sits up immediately, the annoyance falling right off his face. “What?

Jack nods. “It came in the post.” He drops the envelope on Seb’s lap, picking up Cami and jogging her in his arms. “Trust a tech company to use snail mail, huh? Missed you, chameleon.”

Sebastian shakes out the letter, frantically scanning its contents.

“What’s the AGAME Summit?” I ask groggily.

“It’s a video game and app convention in New York,” Cyrus explains, dropping onto the sofa next to me and leaning against my side. I flush as his bare arm presses against mine, suddenly remembering the last night we spent together.

I clear my throat. “And it’s a big deal.”

Very big deal.” He reaches for my hand. “All of the biggest tech brands will be there. It’s invitation-only, and they only invite a handful of newbies every year.”

“Wow! Congratulations, guys!”

“It’s in two weeks,” Seb says, scanning the letter. He glances up at Jack. “Can you do it?”

Jack nods firmly. “I’ll have to.”

“Do what?” I ask.

Cyrus stretches next to me, unsubtly wrapping an arm around my shoulders. “Well, sugar, there’s not much point attending an app conference unless their shiny new app is up and running, is there? The amount of sales they’ll get from talking at the conference alone will be phenomenal. And future investors want to see exactly what they’re buying into.”

“What does that mean? You’re launching in two weeks?” I frown. “Launch date isn’t for over a month, is it?”

“We’re just going to have to speed up the timelines,” Seb says, turning the letter over and producing a pen out of nowhere. Jack snatches the letter back before he can start scribbling down notes.

“Don’t you dare deface it. I’m gonna frame it,” he insists. “Hang it in my bedroom.”

“Nerd,” Cyrus yawns, nuzzling into my neck like a cat. “Missed you,” he murmurs in my ear, his lips brushing my ear lobe. “Thought of you all weekend.”

“I missed you too,” I say honestly, and he smiles, white teeth glinting. Sebastian stands, and I frown up at him. “Hang on, though. What about what we just talked about? Does this mean you won’t be able to spend time with Cami?”

Sebastian shakes his head. “The workload won’t be on me. It’ll be on him.” He jabs a thumb back at Jack.

Jack nods slowly, taking a deep breath. “I guess I’d better get started.”

Seb turns to me, light shining in his eyes. “Me, too. I’ve got a lot to learn.”

I smile up at him. “Don’t worry. I’m a great teacher.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode